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Teachers object to the controversial West Bengal Universities and Colleges Bill 2017

In the new Bill, the government has replaced “eminent educationists” with “persons interested in education”.

MEMBERS OF various teachers’ organisations on Wednesday objected to the controversial West Bengal Universities and Colleges (Administration and Regulation) Bill-2017, which is set to be tabled in the Assembly on Thursday. The state government had proposed to place the Bill in the Assembly on December 9, last year. According to it, only eminent educationists would be nominated as president of college governing bodies.

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The move was aimed at curbing presence of elected representatives of ruling party in governing bodies.

However, after facing opposition within the Trinamool Congress and from the Left, the government had put the Bill on hold and made several changes to it.

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In the new Bill, the government has replaced “eminent educationists” with “persons interested in education”.

Teachers of state universities and colleges have alleged that with this, the government has compromised autonomy of the institutions. According to educationists, the move would throw open the doors for ruling party members to get nominated as governing body presidents.

“Earlier, college governing body and the university statute used to determine who would be a part of the governing body and its tenure. In the proposed Bill, the government will decide these things. The power to dissolve the governing body also rests with it. Moreover, instead of nominating educationists, the government will nominate any person, who is interested in education, as the governing body president. Previously, governing body members used to choose the president,” said Shrutinath Praharaj, general secretary of West Bengal College and University Teachers’ Association (WBCUTA).

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Meanwhile, in last year’s Bill, college and university employees were included in the category of public servants, which would have made them liable for punishment if they fail to discharge duties, including election duty. This provision has been removed in the new Bill.

“We have got a copy of the Bill… Some clauses have been removed. But the rest of the provisions in the proposed Bill are a severe threat to autonomy of academic institutions. The state government also proposes to bring a common statute for all universities, which is impractical… There are no provisions in the new Bill to improve academic environment in colleges and universities,” said Nilanjana Gupta, secretary of Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA).

She added that a protest meeting would be held at the JU campus on Thursday.

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“All teachers in our university are united in opposing the state government’s interference in the overall functioning of state universities. The new Bill has been drafted without keeping the interest of universities and colleges in mind,” said Gupta.

First published on: 09-02-2017 at 05:44:06 am
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